Changing directions -- new topics and new approach


Dear How to Crack a Nut readers and friends,

It has been 9 months since the last post. I hope you have all been very well.

This has been a period full of happy news for me, as well as steep learning curves (nappies, feeding, identifying different types of crying, etc), very little and very interrupted sleep, and some time to reflect. It has also been a very distressing period due to the (lack of) Brexit developments,[1] which are increasingly keeping me awake at night. I hope that is not your case but, if it is, you have all my solidarity.

After a few internal fights and disagreements with myself, I have come to the realisation that it will not be possible to re-start the blog as it used to be. First because my new work/life balance seriously restricts the blogging time that I could fit into my working week—and, to be honest, the joy of rediscovering the world through the eyes of a 6-month old exceeds by several multiples that of any other potential uses of my free time.

Second, because now that I have finished a number of previous commitments[2] and found the time and energy to venture into a new research area, I have embarked on a new book project that moves away from the day-to-day commentary of case law and legal developments[3] and requires me to learn a great deal of new things about artificial intelligence, big data, smart contracts and the internet of things — to seek to understand their potential to improve the governance of public procurement. This requires my full attention span and I need to concentrate on this, at least for the remainder of the year of research leave that the University of Bristol Law School has generously given me. Maybe I will return to case law analysis when I am back to juggling teaching with research in January 2020.

I do not want to completely stop blogging, though, and I think there is scope to trial a reorientation of the blog. So, from now on, I will use it to reflect about my learning on ‘new technologies’ (such a nineties’ expression…) and procurement governance. This will hopefully serve as a springboard for new ideas and for exchanges about the ways in which we can re-imagine procurement practice and oversight on the basis of nascent applications of different modes of information processing. I hope you will find this of some interest.

All the best,

[1] And the few developments there have been are utterly depressing: see #Ferrygate. If the Withdrawal Agreement ever gets approved, then there will be relevant analysis in a forthcoming paper with Pedro Telles: ‘Brexit and Public Procurement: Transitioning into the Void?‘ [2019/2 European Law Review] and in my chapter ‘EU-UK Procurement-Based Trade Relations After Brexit: Some Thoughts‘, in F Kainer & R Repasi (eds), Trade Relations after Brexit: Impetus for the Negotiation Process (Nomos, 2019, forthc.). If not, this will have been a waste of time…
[2] Just before parental leave and/or at the start of research leave, I have completed papers on ‘Centralisation of Procurement and Supply Chain Management in the English NHS: Some Governance and Compliance Challenges‘ (2019) 70(1) NILQ 53-75; 'Transparency and Competition in Public Procurement: A Comparative View on Their Difficult Balance', in K-M Halonen, R Caranta & A Sanchez-Graells (eds), Transparency in EU Procurements: Disclosure within Public Procurement and during Contract Execution, Vol. 9 European Procurement Law Series (Edward Elgar, 2019, forthc); as well as a paper about cross-border joint procurement under Art 39(4) Dir 2014/24/EU that is currently under peer-review (soon to be published on SSRN).
[3] Those interested will find revised views, a new introductory chapter and a comprehensive coverage of the 2015/17 case law in the recently published A Sanchez-Graells & C De Koninck, Shaping EU Public Procurement Law: A Critical Analysis of the CJEU Case Law 2015–2017 (Kluwer, 2018).